Education Minister and Jewish Home faction head Naftali Bennett seemingly criticized the IDF's efforts to integrate women into combat units, while urging the Religious Zionist community to keep criticism of the IDF in check.
"Is the IDF perfect and functioning perfectly? No. Were mistakes made? Yes. The purpose and purpose of the IDF is to provide security to the State of Israel and to win wars," Bennett told high school students from Mitzpe Yericho. "The IDF must not promote other agendas that are not part of [the IDF's] purpose."
Bennett cautioned, however, that "we only have one IDF" and contended that "the situation is improving. We shouldn't let the scenario spiral out of control".
Despite leading the Religious Zionist Jewish Home party Bennett has largely stayed out of the recent flap between senior rabbis and the IDF. The more conservative Religious Zionist stream has been at odds with the IDF over recent policies integrating women into combat roles and its efforts at drafting religious girls.
Last month, Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu caused a furor when he called for IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to be fired. Eliyahu refused to retract his statements and was subsequently banned from IDF bases by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Eliyahu also argued that Eizenkot "wants a war" with the religious community. "They mix boys and girls in the IDF in all areas. They boast that they’ve already managed 90 percent, and they hope for 100" said Eliyahu at a conference. "It’s an unhinged agenda, but the problem is that this agenda now leads the IDF."